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Report: Gonzaga could leave WCC for Mountain West

Could Gonzaga leave the West Coast Conference as early as next year? (AP)

An NCAA conference realignment could alter the college hoops landscape for one top program as early as 2019.

Gonzaga may be leaving the West Coast Conference to join the Mountain West, according to a report from The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Mark Zeigler. Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said the Spokane-based university is one of six schools with whom he’s spoken about a potential move.

UW’s Mike Hopkins: Huskies in right position to boost tourney chances

A shift to the Mountain West could give the Bulldogs a higher quality of league play. The Zags have dominated the WCC for two decades and made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament every year since 1998 but have always had to stack their non-conference schedule with high-ranked opponents to get the quality wins necessary for strong seeding in the tournament.

Coming off its first Final Four appearance in 2017, No. 7 Gonzaga holds a 27-4 overall record (17-1 WCC) in 2018.

Outside of Gonzaga, the WCC is home to Loyola Marymount, University of the Pacific, Pepperdine, University of Portland, Saint Mary’s, University of San Diego, University of San Francisco, Santa Clara, and BYU. While Saint Mary’s is currently ranked No. 22 by the Associated Press, only two other WCC teams besides Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s have made the NCAA Tournament since 2009.

In the Mountain West, Gonzaga would join No. 21 Nevada, Boise State, Fresno State, New Mexico, San Diego State, Wyoming, UNLV, Utah State, Air Force, Colorado State and San Jose State. All but two Mountain West schools have made the NCAA Tournament since 2011.